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Technically we have here, in Stoss's earliest great work, an admirable illustration of his style for figures in the round, and in low relief. Those in the central group are somewhat larger than life size. The strongly marked anatomy of the heads of the apostles, the long bony hands and fingers with their swollen veins, the deeply cut and many-folded tumultuous draperies completely concealing the figures, the style of the hair and beards; and, again, the slender, small-busted type, and costumes of the women in the low reliefs of the wings, are all highly characteristic landmarks upon which to base conclusions with regard to other work attributed to Stoss. There is in the apostle group an almost wild oriental type, associated with the artist's own temperament. The heads are those of ascetics, impulsive, filled with enthusiasm, rough uncultured men for the most part. The women, tender and lovable, with a distinction between the mother of Christ herself and the other women who, in the costumes of the period, are merely burghers' wives or daughters. Taken as single figures there is life and movement in the expression and attitudes of those in the central tableau. Yet, as a composition, it has the faults of the German system of assembling, as it were, a number of puppets, rather than, as in Flemish retables, a more pictorial perspective method. It suggests an impression of a stage grouping without the scenery. There is a disregard of any logical arrangement, except a general decorative effect. The draperies are subordinated to this, and have little relation to the position and movements of the figures they cover. But no one will dispute the poetical treatment of the whole. For, if the eye may wander from group to group, from panel to panel, every detail is full of suggestiveness. What ideas, indeed, are not evolved, from that central kneeling figure, what suggestions relating to the ending of that earthly life, which we are left to fill up for ourselves!
Many altarpieces, single figures, and panels are with more or less certainty attributed to Veit Stoss. Madonna statuettes are numerous, the Holy Child, as a rule quite unclothed and lying, according to the fashion generally prevailing, somewhat across in the arms of His mother. The face of the Virgin is almost always from the same model, or it would be more correct to say, of the same accepted type: very long, loose, wavy hair, unfortunately often crowned with a monstrous crown, as was so much the fashion not only in sculpture, but in graphic representations generally. It would be impossible to give here a list of works attributed to Stoss. Their variety also is very great, ranging from those of high quality, as the Cracow retable, to others after his return to Nurnberg, of very indifferent merit. For an appreciation of his style at his best, the altarpiece of the parish church of Bamberg, representing the adoration of the Magi, would form a very fair example. This is a quite late work if executed, as it is said, about 1533, when the sculptor would have been at least eighty years of age. Of his low reliefs we may class amongst his very best work the panels in limewood of the Ten Commandments, now in the Bavarian National Museum. The influence of the Italian Renaissance, wherever he may have derived it, is strong in these, and from the costumes of the women and hats of the men we must again date them very late in his life: not earlier than 1520.
With no intention of entering into its artistic merits—indeed with a difficulty of repressing the expression of a feeling of wonderment that a reputation should be founded on work of such a character—it would be impossible to pass without notice the famous Englische Gruss — the Angelical Salutation — in the form of a Rosary wreath, with more than life-sized central figures, hanging from the vault of the choir of the Lorenzkirche at Nurnberg. These hanging pieces,